• Loitering with Intent

  • By: Muriel Spark
  • Narrated by: Nadia May
  • Length: 4 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (326 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"How wonderful to be an artist and a woman in the twentieth century," Fleur Talbot rejoices. Loitering about London in 1949, with intent to gather material for her writing, Fleur finds a job "on the grubby edge of the literary world", as secretary to the odd Autobiographical Association. Are they a group of mad egomaniacs, hilariously writing their memoirs in advance, or poor fools ensnared by a blackmailer? Rich material, in any case.

But when its pompous director, Sir Quentin, steals the manuscript of Fleur's new novel, fiction begins to appropriate life. The association's members begin to act out scenes exactly as Fleur herself had already written them in her missing manuscript. And as they meet darkly funny, pre-visioned fates, where does art start or reality end?

©1981 Copyright Administration, Ltd. (P)2002 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"I read this book in a delirium of delight. In Loitering with Intent, Miss Spark returns to the early flawless form of Memento Mori and The Comforters....Robust and full-bodied, a wise and mature work, and a brilliantly mischievous one." (The New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about Loitering with Intent

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As Good As Pym--Maybe Better!

Loitering with Intent is a smart, funny novel set in the publishing world of late 1940s London. Fleur Talbot has written a novel whose characters just happen to resemble the people she works with at the Autobiographical Society--so much so that events in the novel start to happen in real life. But while Fleur insists that it's all just fiction, her employer, Sir Quentin Oliver, goes to extreme lengths to keep the novel from being published--and to get his hands on a copy.

Spark's novel brims with eccentric characters, including Sir Oliver, Fleur's coworkers, and her various lovers--one of whom is the husband of a co-worker who has not only Fleur on the side but also a gay poet named Gray Mauser. The best of the bunch is Sir Oliver's elderly mother, Edwina, who uses her supposed senility and incontinence as weapons and who helps Fleur to get the best of everyone.

I read and loved Spark's A Far Cry from Kensington earlier this month and was eager to read more by her. Through Fleur, she's a keen observer of human nature and the foibles of polite society. Loitering with Intent is delightful, witty, urbane, and even at times downright hilarious. Spark is now right up there with Barbara Pym in my estimation--and may even surpass her.

9 people found this helpful

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Another Reason to Love Muriel Spark

Fleur Talbot is an aspiring young writer who is passionately wrapped up in putting the finishing touches on her first novel, Warrender Chase. Since she cannot yet rely on her novel-writing to earn a living, she is forced to take a job with Sir Quentin Oliver, at his dubious organization called The Autobiographical Association. Sir Quentin, who likes to surround himself with titled individuals, has convinced a number of them to write their autobiographies, which are to be kept under wraps for seventy years and revealed only after their deaths, but the lacklustre accounts of their lives are needing a little bit of peppering up, which is where Fleur comes in. Very quickly, Fleur comes to suspect that Sir Quentin's motives are not entirely selfless, and her suspicions are confirmed when she discovers that her Warrender Chase manuscript has been stolen, and than details from her as-yet unpublished novel have somehow been worked into the autobiographies. When life starts to imitate the plot of her fictional story, Fleur is truly horrified. A wonderful cast of characters, which prominently features Sir Quentin's kooky elderly mother Dame Edwina, who would make a wonderful protagonist on her very own. Nadia May is just perfect for this. Much recommended.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Unsatisfying

I found this book to be pleasant but insubstantial. The plot is rather silly and while several of the characters are eccentric and interesting they are not realistic enough for me to care about what happens to them. I wouldn't waste a valuable book credit on this one unless you need something to occupy you while knitting, which is what I did.

4 people found this helpful

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charming

a real pleasure to hear and a good introduction to spark

2 people found this helpful

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Go on a trip to a writer’s bedsit and mid-20th century London

A funny and yet smart and insightful book. It gives one the pleasure of travelling to mid-20th century London. It proves that a work of fiction does not have to be tragic or scary to interest a reader. And it does not have to be depressing to come across as sophisticated. Both the contents and the performance are a real treat, both skilful and engaging. And the way Ms Spark treats serious matters, including intellectual ones, in a light, cool, ironic, often almost playful manner is so impressive.

1 person found this helpful

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Perfect Match

Nadia May is my favorite reader so far. And Muriel Spark’s words in this story were a perfect match. I’d only read one other Sparks story. It was amusing, but this one had a main character in her full glory. I look forward to listening to it again.

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Vintage Spark

An interesting novel with an autobiographical slant and metafiction layers. Sparks characters are eccentric and not particularly relatable, but her writing about writing, and being a female writer during that era, are well drawn.

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Lovely

The narrator was perfect for this! The story seems to be an illustration of how to take a situation you don't want to be in as a jumping point into where you want to be.

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Listening with Intense Interest

If you haven’t downloaded this book, do it immediately. It’s the kind of book the Mitford sisters would have delighted in.

Nadia May’s pitch-perfect timing and delivery make as perfect an audiobook as could possibly be.

The story is delicious and triumphant.

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One of the best

If you like really good writing without a word gone to waste, and a deep ironic sense of humor, you can’t beat this one.

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  • jacqueline jenkins
  • 08-31-16

One of her best

The story is a wonderful evocation of it’s times .Spark weaves her tale of friendships and contretemps in the world of writers and publishers and describes the London scene of late fifties ..her own prime …navigating through the class, social and workaday milieu of those post war times ,Always with fun , anger and a minimum of words .She was the master of the use of simple ,to to the point descriptions .Her style never fails to amuse and amaze .

3 people found this helpful

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  • mpd
  • 12-19-21

Usual Muriel Spark light but engaging read

I enjoy Muriel Spark’s writings and this is just one more ‘good read’, excellently narrated. I good story line; entertaining and somewhat evocative of earlier times.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-16-21

Loitering with a cardinal

The audible is well narrated and brings out Spark’s wicked wit. The second book in two days I’ve read set in the late 1940s. As someone who knows a lot about Catholicism the JH Newman references interested me. Since those days he has become a saint. I also know people who have worked for ‘our lady of Ransome’. Lots of gems about that time including the use of Dexedrine for slimming and other issues such as rationing. A brilliant author who writes great characterisations.

1 person found this helpful

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  • viv
  • 10-26-21

Good

If you like Muriel Spark, as I do, you will enjoy it. But if you’ve never read a book of hers I wouldn’t start with this one. I’m not sure what to say about it except it’s typical BUT I have enjoyed others much more. It lacks a certain something which the others have but I can’t put my finger on it. It’s less authentic somehow. Narrated very well.

1 person found this helpful

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  • bookylady
  • 10-17-21

Funny, witty, really enjoyable.

Muriel Spark at her best. If you like Muriel Spark's writing do give this a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Faith Walter
  • 10-01-21

Witty and clever

Loved this story. Engaged my attention right through. Like a funny and rather idiosyncratic who dunnit. Very enjoyable.

1 person found this helpful

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  • DEE21
  • 09-21-22

Dated and arcane

I was disappointed by the book and the reading.

Transporting me into 1950s London - a place laden with observations of Cluedo style characters & class division - ultimately a place I didn't particularly want to be.

Action is all seen through the authors arch and aspirant novelists lens and more about them and their cleverness than plot and character.

it is a little like a Time Capsule of a certain period in English social history defined by the Soho set and their interaction with a declining aristocracy struggling at the dog end of a disappearing era.

I found the performance grating mannered and redolent of 1950s repertory British Theatre. overall not a winner for me!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-05-22

Great Fun

You might be a little put off by the narrator’s voice, but do persist. This is a very enjoyable and funny novel. It’s not one of Muriel Spark’s best, but it is very amusing skit on plagiarism and a riff on the old-fashioned detective story.

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  • Lynda Shaw
  • 08-27-22

A Jolly Entertaining Tale

I loved this book, I was kept enthralled by the racy goings on in the publishing world

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-11-22

Loitering with Intent

An amusing little book set in 1950 about an author and her first book. Very well narrated by Nadia May.